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No-Fault Repeal Advances After Amendment Creates Windshield Deductible

Automobile special workers replacing windscreen or windshield of a car in auto service station garage.
Zaiets Roman/ Romaset
Adobe Stock
Lauren Feinauer works at the Chattanooga plant. She props UAW signs in the windshield and rear window while she's parked at work.

A measure Florida lawmakers claim will lower car insurance rates is advancing in the Senate after undergoing a major change.

Lawmakers are now a step closer to getting rid of Florida’s no-fault insurance requirements. Right now, drivers must carry personal-injury protection coverage. Under the measure moving through the Senate, Florida drivers would carry bodily injury coverage instead. Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephryhills) says the goal is to update Florida’s current system.

"The question is are the current coverage levels sufficient we know that they are not and that this is what this bill seeks to address," said Burgess. "Let’s dive into what is currently being provided. So Florida’s current no-fault law was established in 1979 and has not been adjusted since then. So we currently have that 10,000 dollars in PIP that we all carry as drivers under a no-fault system."

The new system would require drivers to have insurance that carries a minimum of 25,000 to cover injuries.

Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola) suggested changes to prevent bad actors from driving up prices for windshield repairs.

"Reality is that the good intentions that we had for really generations of how to have your glass repaired has changed dramatically in many parts of the state," said Broxson. "Where rather than having the cost of the glass replaced it would be escalated by a procedure where several parties are involved that manipulate the price."

Currently broken or cracked windshields are fixed at no cost to the policyholder. The idea was that would reduce the danger of people driving with broken or cracked windshields. But some bad actors are paying people to have windshields that may not be damaged replaced at a much higher cost. When the insurance company goes to pay out the claim they might decide to argue the price and therefore spend more money fighting a lawsuit.

Those companies have said the extra cost in fighting those cases makes the cost of overall insurance increase.

Broxson’s amendment allows insurance companies to charge up to a 200-dollar deductible to replace a windshield. He says it would get rid of the edge bad actors have now of offering a windshield at no cost to the policyholder.

Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) asked if the change would result in drivers not being able to easily get their windshield fixed when they notice the damage. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) answered.

"No, it doesn’t. It allows them on the front end to when they're selecting their policy to determine whether they want a deductible on that policy for auto glass," said Brandes. "That may allow the auto insurance policy overall to be less expensive if they choose to have a deductible."

Lawmakers approved the amendment and accepted another change that would allow people in poverty, and full-time students to purchase coverage at reduced levels to help lower costs.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.